Dromore and District Local Historical Group Journal

Volume 3



By Harold Gibson

Some four years after the present Town Hall was built the Clock was installed in the turret as a gift to the townspeople by Mr. William Cowan Heron. In January 1891 Cowan Heron was presented with an illuminated address by the people of Dromore as a thank you token for his generous gift of the clock. The address hangs inside the Cottage Hospital along with his portrait. It would appear from the text of the address that there were several reasons why the gift of the clock gave pleasure. As to why the clock was not installed in the tower when the building was completed in 1886 becomes apparent as the address is read in full. It would appear that even with the powers granted to the Town Commissioners they hesitated at incurring any further expense to the townspeople by purchasing a clock for the tower and thus providing a benefit to the town. The text goes on to thank the Cowan Heron Family for the gift of the clock and to say that as time flies, the added appearance  to the Town Hall will serve as a reminder of the donor.

Some 103 years after its installation the clock is still going though it has had a long and sometimes arduous history as many down through the years have sought to keep this time piece going with a degree of accuracy. A series of articles entitled "Historic Clocks of Down" by W. H. Carson and published in the Mourne Observer carries a feature on the Dromore Town Clock in its' issue dated 11th May, 1978. From that article we glean that Berringer Bros., of Belfast were the contractors who erected the clock in the turret and M. Byrne of the Fountain Head Bell Foundry, Dublin, cast and hung the clock bell. Whilst Berringer Bros. were not turret clock makers it is presumed that the clock would have been brought in from one of the turret clock makers in England.

The style of the clock consists of four white faces each having a diameter of 44 inches and the black hands measuring 18 in and 12 in. The hours are in black roman numerals.

The clock faces light at night and the clock strikes the hours in a light tenor note. The dial facing Church Street has a patch between the hours of 3 and 4 believed to date from a night in 1920 when it is said that the "B" Specials put a bullet into the clock.

The maintenance of such a timepiece has not been easy and it is a tough piece of mechanism to wind up. This particular clock was fitted with a heavy winding action not to mention the fact that access to the machinery necessitated climbing two perpendicular iron ladders into the turret. Part of the recent history of the clock can be traced from the names written upon a wooden beam in the turret where the clock sits inside a glass fronted cupboard below the bell. Sharman D. Neill, the large Belfast jeweller of a bygone age carried out an alteration to the dial in November 1949 and mechanical repairs on the 14th December, 1949. At one time the clock custodian was Herbert Silcock who was waterman and water rate collector to the former Urban District Council. Mr. Silcock's name together with that of T. R. Armstrong and his son Bertie, jewellers and watchmakers of Market Square, Dromore appear on the turret timbers. One other inscription reads "Clock repaired July 1963" and simply signed with the letter "H".

At one time it was suggested that a possible electrification of the clock would overcome the weekly climb into the turret to crank up the old timepiece. Herbert Silcock was in favour of the proposal and Albert Cairns the town clerk agreed with him but before a decision was taken Mr. Cairns called David McClenaghan of Drumbroneth, a mechanical clock expert who saved the timepiece from the final indignity of electrification. Mr. McClenaghan altered the weight on time mechanism, ground in new bearings and overhauled the drive. The clock had got a new lease of life though for those who maintained it may have thought that electrification would have made life a little easier.

At one time the Town Hall could boast of having two bells. During the days of the pig market a bell that hung at the rear of the Town Hall on the outside back wall was rung every Wednesday at 9 a.m. to announce the opening of the market. The Market Bell had a hanging chain attached to a bracket on the wall and Willie Corbett and Willie Bradshaw were the bell ringers. (A photograph of the pig market dating from around 1905 appears on page 28 of Vol. 2 of the Journal and the bell can be seen quite clearly.) The market Bell was also used in former days to call out the Fire Brigade.

One of the many problems facing those who looked after the Town Hall clock was the difficulty in keeping all four faces giving the same time. No doubt the saying, "He has as many faces as the town hall clock" arose from this situation. Over the years the clock had developed a ten minute time variation between the four dials, a common complaint with four faced turret clocks usually caused by the friction of dust mixed with lubricating oil on the moving parts. In the mid 1970's repairs were undertaken by John Curl from Lisburn who had a particular interest in mechanical clocks. The timepiece was dismantled and cleaned and since that time the four faces have been in close agreement. When the new library was being fitted out in the Town Hall one of the cables holding the timing weight was knocked off its pulley and the cable snapped. Again Mr. Curl was called in and he carried out the repairs. During the 70's the caretaker of the Town Hall was Samuel Gribben of Maypole Park. Every Thursday at 12.30 p.m. Sam climbed the turret to wind the clock. Today the clock is still going and that tenor note still rings out from the bell though the faces do not appear to be lit at night. The maintenance of the clock is now the responsibility of Banbridge District Council and the timepiece that has served Dromore for over 100 years still chimes out the hours giving the time and calling to remembrance the donor William Cowan Heron.

Time, like an ever rolling stream
bears all her sons away,
they fly forgotten as a dream
dies at the opening day.

-Isaac Watts 1674-1748.

By Rosemary McMillan

Photographs by courtesy of Martin Campbell and Howard Kinkead.
Photographs by courtesy of Martin Campbell and Howard Kinkead.

Over the past few years, this well known building at Agnews Corner had slowly deteriorated. Vandalism had hastened the process, but it still remained a landmark by which to give directions. The dark, welcoming shape, on a cold snowy night, signalled for me, the last half mile home.

The old building is shown on a map of the townland of Coolsallagh, made by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland on February 28th 1835. Be that as it may, last winter saw the demise of the dwelling. Fire and subsequent bulldozing, reduced it to a pile of rubble a chapter in the story had come to an end.

Those of us who remember Liza, Dick and Sammy have been made sharply aware of our own mortality, so we welcome the signs of a new landmark gradually emerging from the debris.


By Cecil Whan

Dromore can proudly boast of having one of the most spacious fire stations in Northern Ireland. The 19 year old building is set in almost three quarters of an acre of land on the Town's Ballynahinch Road. A large carpark provides ample space for fire-fighters hurrying to answer fire calls. The Ballynahinch Road is the fourth location for the Dromore Fire Station in under half a century.

During the early years of the 20th century the local brigade had access to a council owned fire cart. During the second world war it became the Auxiliary Fire Service and the men were given a Morris car and light trailer pump which was later replaced by a Ford V8 converted tender and trailer pump. In those days the station was located in what was known as Hill's entry.

A GROUP OF DROMORE FIREMEN PICTURED IN 1939 IN FRONT OF THEIR OLD TRAILER PUMP. Back row (from left)-Tommie Arlow, Robert Martin and Robert Gordon Front row (from left)-William Ellison, William McGuinness, William Hutchinson, Tommie Bryson and Section Leader Fred JonesDuring the blitz on Belfast the Dromore Auxiliary Fire Service was despatched to the city to help deal with the damage and devastation caused by German Bombers. Those who assisted with the fires in Belfast were; leading Firemen Fred Jones (Officer in Charge) and the following Firemen - Henry Johnston, Walter Peden, William Ellison, Robert Gordon, Herbert Greer, James Greer, Thomas Arlow, William Maginess, Robert Martin, Robert Jones, John Clokey, Patsy Neeson, Norman Jamison, Lyle McGuigan, William Herron and Wilfred Taylor.

When the personnel received an Austin Tender with a Harland pump the new equipment was too large for Hill's entry. They then moved to a new location in Carlisle's Coalyard in Church Street.

In 1951 the Dromore Brigade moved to a purpose built station in Gallows Street and more than 20 years after that the men were on themove again - because their station was located in a redevelopment zone! The present commodious building consists of an appliance room, Sub Officer's office, duty room, recreation room, kitchen and communications room as well as showers and washing facilities.

At the present time the station has a crew of 13 men who respond to between 150 - 200 callouts per year. The crew consists of a Sub Officer, 2 leading firefighters and 10 firefighters. The leading firefighters are - Stephen Sands and Gary Gibson while the firefighters are - Graham Halliday, Charlie Black, Jim Gracey, Walter Corbett, Kenny Halliday, Stephen Moreland, Allister Bingham, Darryl Crookshanks, Winston Martin and John Moreland.

Opening of the present Fire Station by Mr. Woods, Chairman of the Fire Authority on 26th April, 1974.Sub Officer George Gracey joined the fire service 20 years ago. He was appointed to the post of Sub Officer in June 1988 following the retirement of Sub Officer Raymond Russell. Looking back over the years Sub Officer Russell had replaced Sub Officer Sammy Walker who had in turn taken over from Cecil Whan (who joined the fire service in 1946). The first Sub Officer (Known in those days as a Section Leader) was Fred Jones.

Between these 5 men they have given 140 years of dedication to the Fire Brigade and members of the public. All have been awarded the Queen's Long Service and Good Conduct Medal as have other members of the crew. In 1982 Sub Officer Wham was awarded the British Empire medal for service to the fire brigade and community at large.

Although now retired Cecil Whan still takes a keen interest in the fire service and admits that `it's something that gets in the blood'. HeBack Row, left to right--FF W. Martin, FF D. Martin, FF J. Moreland, FF C. Black, FF W. Corbett, FF A. Bingham, FF S. Moreland, FF J. Gracey. keeps abreast of what is happening at his old station and has compiled an extensive collection of old photographs and newspaper cuttings on the Dromore Brigade.

Dromore's territory stretches as far as the Half Way House (towards Banbridge) and halfway between Lisburn, Lurgan and Ballynahinch. The Fire-fighters have, however, travelled as far as Lisnaskea near Enniskillen to assist the local stations in extinguishing a forest blaze. Occasionally they also render assistance to nearby stations. During the height of the `troubles' in the seventies Dromore's fire crew found themselves answering calls to Lurgan, Lisburn, Portadown, Armagh, Newry, Dunmurry and Finaghy. These days the majority of calls attended by the crew are chimney fires, hay sheds, house fires and road traffic accidents on the nearby dual carriageway.

FOUR PAST AND THE PRESENT SUB OFFICER. Back Row, left to right-S. Walker, R. Russell, G. Gracey. Front, left to right--F. S. Jones, C. Whan, B.E.M.The station has one fire appliance - A Dennis WRL - one of the most up to date in the Fire Brigade fleet. The WRL or Water Tender Ladder carries 400 Gallons of water and an assortment of Equipment to enable the fire-fighters to deal with fires, road traffic accidents and chemical incidents. In the event of a road traffic accident the Dromore appliance is backed up by an emergency support unit from Lurgan which carries more specialised cutting equipment.

The crew members meet every Wednesday night from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. to practice drills, test equipment and clean the appliance.

Two special pieces of history live on at the station in the form of a brass and a chrome bell. During the early part of the 20th century theDROMORE CREW, 1969 Back row-FM R. McCandless, FM S. Poots, FM R. Russell, FM K. Martin, FM J. Stronge. Second row-FM H. Silcock, UM W. Maginess, FM D. McDowell, FM S. Walker, FM S. Murdock. Front row-EX/FM R. Martin, STN/0 G. Moore, SUB/O F. S. Jones, UFM C. Whan, EX-FM A. Rodgers. brass bell hung in Dromore Square and was originally used as a market bell. It later became the primary means of mobilising the fire crew. In 1974 it was presented to the crew at the time of the official opening of the new station. The smaller chrome bell was originally mounted on Dromore's "Ulster" major pumping appliance. Bells of this type were the forerunner of the present day two - tone horns. The bell was rung by the Officer in charge of the appliance en route to calls to alert the public that a fire appliance was approaching and also as an indication to the caller that help was on its way.

Dromore fire station - In common with every other station in the province - has a dedicated, hard-working team who are always willing to give up their time day or night to assist people in distress. They can certainly look forward to creating many more years of history.

The information in this article was supplied and collated by Cecil Whan B.E.M. Dromore.


The Leader, Friday, November 23, 1951

Major D. J. Christie, chairman of the Northern Ireland Fire Authority, apologising for the absence, through indisposition. Of the Right Hon. W. B. Maginess, K.C., LL.D., Minister of Home Affairs, who was to have performed the ceremony, officially opened a new Fire Station, erected at a cost of over �6,000, at Upper Gallows Street. Dromore, beside the auction mart of Messrs. James Martin R Son, on Friday evening of last week. There were present:-Messrs. It. C Montgomery. M.B.E.; R. F. R.. Dunbar. O.B.E.; J. W. E. Cathcart and L. C. Dennis. of the Ministry of home Affairs; Messrs. John Reid, J.P.; M. Busby, .J.P.; R. H. Wright, OBE.' Thos. H. MacDonald. M.B.E., (town clerk of Lisburn); Robert Proctor, W. B. O'Donoghue, and James Finlay, J.P. (vice-chairman), members of the Northern Ireland Fire Authority, together with a number of officials, including the secretary, Mr. H B. Reid. The Dromore Urban Council was represented by-Mr. Thomas Castles (chairman). Captain Robt. Johnston (vice-chairman). Messrs. James Hamilton, Hugh M'Fadden, Lyle M'Guigan, John Patterson and Francis Russell, with Mr. Albert Cairns, solicitor (clerk).

A guard of honour, comprised of members of the local unit of the Fire Authority, under Fire-Officer V. M'Afee, was inspected by Major Christie, who was accompanied by Mr. Thos. Castles, Fire Force Commander G. H. Murphy, and Chief Officer T. J. Browne, of the Southern Fire Authority, Portadown.

The visitors were afterwards entertained to dinner at the Temperance Hotel. Dromore, by the Chairman and members of the Council.

After toasts to "His Majesty the King" and 'The Governor of Northern Ireland," Mr. Castles. proposing that of "The government of Northern Ireland" regretted the absence of Dr. Maginess and, expressed a hope for his speedy return to health He welcomed Mr. Montgomery, who had come In his stead.

Responding. Mr. Montgomery emphasised his Inability to take the place of Dr. Maginess. He thought the Government had done a very good job. They had had a difficult task in maintaining law and order. He was very pleased to be present on that auspicious occasion.

Captain Johnston, proposing "The Northern Ireland Fire Authority," described the new station as one of the finest he had seen, not only in design but also in equipment.

Major Christie, on behalf of the Authority. thanked the Urban Council for their hospitality. It was rather Interesting, he said, that the first modern fire station built to the specification of the new Northern Ireland Fire Authority was that In Dromore. He paid tribute to the . work of Mr. D. W. Chambers, A.I.A.S, Banbridge, architect concerned in the construction, and Mr. R. Wishart, Carryduff, the contractor, who were present. He intimated that a new unit will soon be appearing in Dromore, costing �3.500. Major Christie went on to speak of the work of the Authority and of "That worthy band of chaps," the retained firemen. Speaking of the International situation, lie said the response to the appeals for volunteers for the various Civil Defence Services was very poor Dromore would probably now get a few more volunteers for the Fire Service. In conclusion, Major Christie referred to the co-operation of Mr. Hugh M'Fadden in the provision of a site, for the station.

"Town and trade of Dromore" was proposed by Mr. R. H. Wright, who displayed a knowledge of the topography and ecclesiastical associations of the town.

In his reply, Mr. James Hamilton referred-to the closing down of linen weaving at Holm Factory: He would like to see the Minister of Commerce using his good offices to let. Dromore have a share of any new industries contemplated.

The Guests" was proposed by Mr. Francis Russell, and responded to by Mr. T. H MacDonald, who expressed appreciation of the "banquet" provided. "Dromore is a good town," said Mr. MacDonald, "and the people progressive. They have given the Fire Authority every encouragement, and have reaped the benefit."

Mr. Albert Cairns paid tribute to the help and co-operation of the secretary of the Authority (Mr. Reid) in connection with the opening.

Mr. Chambers presented propelling pencils to Mr. Castles and Major Christie as mementos of the occasion, while Mr. Montgomery, on behalf of Dr. Maginess, received a Parker writing set from Mr. Wishart.

The new fire station, an imposing building of red brick with a large double entrance. comprises, in addition to the lofty central chamber, or appliance room, a duty room, station officer's room, store, kitchen, washroom, and recreation room, as well as adequate toilet accommodation. Two yards at the rear incorporate a pettrol store and coal house respectively. Personnel of the Dromore unit:- Section-Leader F. S. Jones. Leading-Firemen W. Maginess and C. Whan. Firemen R. Martin, A. Rodgers, H. Silcock , W. Taylor, C. Ogle. W. Corbett, G. M'Kee. V. M'Kee S. Walker, S. G. Poots, J. Ellison and W. Hutchinson.


Reprinted in The Leader, 8/1/54

The Passing of the old year. 1928. and the ushering in of the New Year, 1929 was marked by a serious fire in Market Square, Dromore, when the drying loft of the dyeworks of the old -established linen firm of William Jardine & Co. was destroyed by fire. So menacing was the outbreak to adjoining property that a phone call was out put through to the Belfast Fire Brigade for assistance. and soon a powerful 80 h.p. engine, with a full complement of men,  was on its way to Dromore. Meanwhile members of the R.U.C. and a willing band of fire-fighters led by Sergeant J. W. Tutty. severed adjoining roofs and managed to keep the conflagration from spreading to Messers. Jardines Hemstitching factory and adjoining property including The Leader Works. When the roof of the drying loft fell in anxiety was allayed a little, "and when the fire engine came thundering into The Square its appearance was heartily welcomed. Soon two lines of hose were playing on the affected building, which was still burning fiercely, the glare illuminating the whale town." The same night in Great Victoria Street, Belfast the factory and warehouse of Spence, Bryson & Co., Ltd.. linen merchants, was being completely gutted while part of the Brigade was in Dromore.

Reprinted in Dromore Weekly Times, 1/12/51
From "Dromore Weekly Times," of November 30, 1901-

Dromore Fire

On last Saturday morning a serious fire occurred at the premises of Mr. Jas. Chambers, Church Street. About 3 a.m. Mr. John Conlon arrived in Dromore from Belfast with horse and cart, and noticing a great smoke aroused Mr. Chambers and his family. Mr, R. H. Hazlette, attracted by Mr. Conlon's shouting hastily dressed, ran out and raised further alarm, ringing the market bell. It was evident that the store was doomed and at one time it looked as though the premises of Mr. R. S. Wallace were also doomed. Mr. John Graham, Jun., Mr. James Henry Burns, and their men did all in their power to prevent the flames spreading. The names of those who assisted were -Thos. Mackin, Robert .1. Crookshanks, R. Lavery, Alex M'Nally, Samuel Kilpatrick, Daniel Durkin, Thos. Crookshanks. Samuel Murdock, Jos. Arbuthnot, W. Magennis, Thos. Hart, Rev. Dr. Stephenson, and Patrick Boyle.

By Rev. T. R. McKnight

There is a legend that when St. Patrick was travelling from Armagh to Saul he celebrated Holy Communion in a church four miles distant from Dromore (probably Donaghcloney). The legend tells us that he saw through the East window a vision of angels.

They announced to Patrick's host that God had committed him and his flock to the pastoral rule of a bishop, who should thereafter found a monastery on that spot. So the church and the abbey of St. Colman were founded on the site, Druimmor or Dromore by the bank of the Lagan.

St. Colman is described in Atkinson's, "Dromore, an Ulster Diocese" as a pupil of St. Mochae, head of the celebrated monastic school on Mahee Island, Strangford. He studied under St. Ailbe, Bishop of Munster and established a monastery at Dromore under St. McNissi, Bishop of Connor. St. Colman is described in Knox's "History of Co. Down" as:- "the first bishop of the diocese of Dromore and Abbot of Dundrum, who was a pupil of St. Caylan, the first bishop of Down".

As in all early Irish foundations the abbot whether in Episcopal orders or not, exercised supreme power over the community.

Rather surprisingly Dromore is not mentioned in the Acts of the Synod of Rathbreasil in 1110 A.D. Also surprising is a reference in the Charter of John de Courcy in 1190 to a certain O'Roney as bishop of Iveagh.

T. E. McNeill's "Anglo Norman Ulster" tells us that when John de Courcy invaded Ulster (circa 1180) it was divided into three power blocks, the Cenel Connail; Cenel Eoghain and Ulaid. Two blocks survived, one which approximated to the diocese of Dromore which was already spilt between the McCartan's and Magennises.

In Moody, Martin & O'Byrne's Companion to Irish History it is recorded that in 1188 Norman soldiers from Dromore invaded Tir Eogain and Domnall. MacLochlain, king of Cenel N. Eogain was killed, and was succeeded by his cousin Muirchertach.
De Courcy had two main power bases, his castles at Dundrum and Carrickfergus. In addition to these he had a semi-circular ring of forts of which three bases were Antrim, Dromore and Maycore sited on the approaches to the Earldom of Cenel Eoghain.

A garrison of soldiers were retained ready to repel raids and in the Pipe Roll of 1211 there were thirty men at Dromore occupying the motte which was one of the three highest in Ulster.

The garrison soldiers were paid in cows and we know that by 1252 John Fitz Geoffrey was campaigning in Tir Eogain. We are also told that Brian O'Neill had submitted and his son Ruaidri was taken hostage. A new castle had been begun at Dromore but was destroyed in 1253 by Brian O'Neill.

It is hard to imagine Dromore in the 13th century being the focal point of power struggles between London and Rome.
During the reign of Edward I, Archbishop Nicholas of Armagh was deeply involved in the politics of the Anglo-Irish colony. This happened because of an Episcopal vacancy in Meath. In spite of it being in the Province of Armagh, it was very much in the area of strongest English influence and its bishops had been English or Anglo-Irish since 1194.

In 1252-54 there were two bishops of Meath. The first one, elected and consecrated with royal assent, the other one provided by Nicholas and consecrated without royal assent. The matter was settled by the Pope who favoured the first, Hugh of Taghman.

Archbishop Nicholas nursed his wounds until Hugh died but then refused to ratify his successor's appointment. Nicholas claimed that the appointment lapsed to him as metropolitan through the neglect of the electors. He duly nominated Walter of Fulbourn to the vacant See. He was the brother of the justiciar and treasurer, Stephen of Fulbourn.

However the days of the Fulbourn ascendency were numbered. Complaints of extortion, and fraud led Edward I to set up
a commission of enquiry against Stephen. In 1284 they concluded that the justiciar, Stephen and the Primate, Nicholas had conspired against the crown.

There were a formidable array of charges against the Fulbourns. There were two charges against the Archbishop, one of which concerned the "custody of vacant bishoprics" one of these bishoprics was Dromore, the other of complicity in providing Walter of Fulbourn to the diocese of Meath. The outcome was that great issue was made of the fact that the excheator of the diocese of Dromore had been expelled by Nicholas and also a bishop appointed by him.

As a general deduction from this case of Nicholas' dealing with Dromore it was recommended that:--

"No Irishman should ever be bishop or archbishop because of their disloyalty and their care to provide to canonries only those of their own race so that only Irishmen should be elected bishops". Edward I sought to resolve the dilemma with a proposal to the Pope to cut the number of Irish bishoprics by half. He wrote to the Pope as follows:" The peace and concorde of Ireland is disturbed because Irish bishops hold Sees adjacent to Irish bishops. These prelates and their clergy help their own nation by promoting and encouraging wars against our Lord, King of England and his subjects. Since the bishoprics of Ireland are very poor and number 34 a remedy would be to make a union of some of them and especially that additional bishoprics be annexed to royal towns in which there are episcopal seats. To the great security of peace and the King's estate it should be done as follows . . . . and one of the changes was to the diocese of Down should be united Dromore".

Ref. The Church and two Nations in Medieval Ireland by Watt.

The colonial settlement of Ireland was reflected in the episcopate of mid-13th century Ireland. Of the twenty three dioceses, thirteen were filled by Anglo-Irish or English bishops, one by an Italian (Clonfert). Dublin was vacant but traditionally held by an Englishman. No native Irishman occupied any of the five dioceses which made up the Dublin province. In contrast to this in the province of Tuam not a single Englishman had as yet held a bishopric.

In spite of the Synod of Cashel's (1171) attempts to bring the Irish electoral system for bishops into line with England and Edward I's determined efforts to bring four dioceses, namely Derry; Raphoe; Dromore and Kilmore to conform, we find that Dromore remained in Irish hands, uninfluenced by the crown. It was one of seven such in the Province of Armagh.

The outcome of this state of affairs was that throughout the 14th century the bishop of Dromore was usually an absentee English bishop. John Watt says in his book:- "An indefensible facet of papal policy was its frequent promotion of English clergy to Irish sees with scant regard for the good of the diocese concerned, for these bishops had no intention of residing in their dioceses but rather to make a career as a suffragan bishop in an English or Welsh see. The classical example of this abuse occurred in Dromore."

An interesting situation arises in those who claimed to be "Bishop of Dromore." An English Benedictine called John Chourles was suffragan bishop to A/bishop Chichele in Canterbury 1420-1433. From 1431-1433 two other rival English friars claimed to have secured papal provision to Dromore. One was an Augustinian friar called Thomas Radcliff who was suffragan of Durham. The other was a Carmelite friar, David Chirbury who was suffragan of St. David's in Wales.

In April 1456 Pope Nicholas V licenses an Irishman called Donatus Ohendu to be consecrated but he failed to present himself for consecration within the legal period of twelve months. In July 1457 Pope Calixtus III provided an English friar Richard Myssing to Dromore. On that date there was supposed to be a vacancy caused by the death of Nicholas Wartree. He had been provided to Dromore in 1419 by Pope Martin V and had been suffragan bishop of York 1420-1445.

Another Carmelite friar named Thomas Scroppe had been sent to Dromore by Pope Eugene IV in 1450. He was still suffragan in York in 1477 and only died in 1499.

Calixtus III had totally ignored Scroppe's appointment in his provision of Richard Myssing in 1457. When Myssing died Pope Pius II provided an Augustinian friar, William Egremond in 1463. He lived until 1501 and acted as suffragan in York all that time. Meanwhile Pope Sixtus IV provided a Breton to Dromore in 1480. He was Yvo Guillen, formerly a canon of St. Malo. In an attempt to resolve the chaos, when Guillen died in 1483 a canon of All Hallows' in Dublin, George Brana was appointed. He was a native of Athens but by 1497 was off as suffragan to the bishops of Worcester and London.

Having failed to secure a solution the Primate wrote to Henry VIII explaining the situation. He was fearful perhaps of the presentation of Anglo-French bishops.
His candidate was:

"A bachelor of the Holy Canon Law and a native of the diocese of Dromore, Arthur Magind (Art MacFlinn)"

The legacy of the 15th century changes now meant that the bishops were members of both the spiritual and temporal aristocracies. As such, they held extensive lands and possessions, and were tenantsin-chief of the Crown.

Therefore no monarch could be indifferent about who was appointed bishop, because such persons became members of the ruling class.
Similarly, no pope could be complacent and leave episcopal appointments entirely in royal hands, lest political considerations take precedence over ecclesiastical priorities.

The Primate's letter failed to influence Henry VIII and in May 1511 Pope Julius II provided an Irish Augustinian friar to Dromore, called Thady O'Reilly.

Seven years later because of poverty, Dromore was annexed to the diocese of Ross. Thady was its bishop but after a few adventures he was excommunicated. Dromore was vacant for 10 years from 1526-36.

Pope Paul III provided an Irish Dominican friar, Quintin Cogley but he died before being consecrated, and did not receive royal assent. In 1539 Roger Maccaidh vicar of Killaic was appointed but resigned immediately. Finally in April 1540, Pope Paul III provided Art Magennis as bishop.

As early as the 10th century the territory of Iveagh was known as Magennis country. In those days it suffered from frequent feuds between the O'Neills, Magennises and McCartanes.

In 1442 when Arthur Magennis was chief of the clan he refused to recognise the right of the Archbishop of Armagh to administer the diocese of Dromore, which was allegedly vacant. The Archbishop, John Prene denounced him as "pestilent and sacriligious" as he administered the territory to his own liking.

Now 98 years later his descendant and namesake was bishop of Dromore. The wheel had turned full cycle. In spite of all the English efforts an Irishman was bishop of an Irish diocese. That diocese was Dromore.

According to Primate Dowdall's Registery, there were only two Northern dioceses where Henry VIII seems to have made no provision to establish a bishop of his choice. They were Derry and Dromore.

The King issued a mandate for the consecration of Primate Dowdall on 28th November 1543. It is unclear what happened in Derry but if all the bishops named in the mandate were present at the ceremony, then Harry could justly maintain, that he had established his claim to

Royal Supremacy in every diocese of the Province of Armagh except Dromore. Bishop Arthur Magennis was the last pre-reformation bishop of Dromore. In the reign of Queen Eliz. I the head of the clan, Sir. Hugh McEnys is described by Marshal Bagnal as:- "the civilist of Irish in these parts ... able to field about 60 horsemen and 80 footmen. He liveth civily and English-like in his own house and every festival day weareth English garments among his own followers."

On 10th May, 1550 Bishop Arthur Magennis received a Royal Pardon for surrendering his Official Bulls and swearing that he would hold his bishopric from His Majesty alone.

He was therefore the first Protestant Bishop of Dromore as a result of the Reformation. In 1576 the Pope sent Patrick Maccaul to be the first bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Dromore. After Arthur's resignation or death there was another long vacancy. The diocese was in poverty, the bishop's income was 20 marks whilst the total diocesan revenues less than 40 pounds.

In 1606 by letters patent with Down and Connor, John Todd, a former Jesuit and Dean of Cashel was appointed as bishop. His brother-in-law William Worseley built a castle at Dromore for his protection.

The charter of James I in 1609 changed the title of the church from "Ecclesia Sancti Colmani" to "Ecclesia Christi Redemptoris de Dromore" the title by which it is still known today, The Cathedral Church of Christ the Redeemer.

In 1610 James I refounded the See by Letters Patent. He rebuilt the cathedral and conferred on the bishop, extensive possessions. He erected into a Manor including the lands of Dromore alias Ballaney and Ballynaris.

He also created a court-leet, to be held twice each year at Dromore, and a courtbaron to be held every week. He also instituted a free market on Saturdays and a Fair to be held once a year.

The bishop was Lord of the manor and had power to appoint a coroner, excheator, clerk and bailiff. The original title of the Manor was Bailanogala. The name was corrupted to Ballymaganley or Ballymaganlis. The family of Fanshaw took the title of Viscount of Dromore but it is long since extinct.

The project of Worseley's castle for Bishop Todd led to a law which prevented bishops from giving leases of the See lands for more than 21 years. This statute remained on the books until disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1870.

Todd resigned under court order in 1611 and later committed suicide in prison in London. His successor John Tanner was appointed in 1613 but was never consecrated. Consequently on 15th May, 1613, Dr. Theophilus Buckworth was consecrated bishop of Dromore in Dublin. For the first time in nearly 200 years the diocese had a bishop keen to reside there.

He set about building a new bishop's palace. However the sun would not shine for long. With the rebellion of 1641 Bishop Buckworth was forced to flee to England. The cathedral and his incompleted palace were destroyed. The See was again vacant as Buckworth died in Wisbech in 1652.


Dromore an Ulster Diocese by Atkinson
History of Co. Down by Knox
Companion to Irish History by Moody, Martin and Byrne
Anglo-Norman Ulster by T. E. McNeill
The Church and Two Nations in Medieval Ireland by J. A. Watt
(Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought Ser. 3 Vol. 3)
History of Ireland by Gill Volume 5
The Medieval Province of Armagh by Aubrey Gwyn S. J.

By Andrew Doloughan

'The Black Bridge' which once carried the waters of the Mill Race over the Lagan behind Otter Lodge (F.G.) One sometimes wonders how many of the rising generations in and around Dromore are aware that within living memory there was an old mill race which ran from the weir on the River Lagan past Graham's yard, down Lower Mount Street on the opposite side from the old Police Barracks.

This old race then crossed the lower side of The Square and made its way under premises at the junction of Bridge Street with Church Street to drive a corn mill wheel at the bottom of what is still known as Hale's Entry.

When I chatted to fellow-townsman Mr. John McGrehan of Meeting Street one evening he refreshed my memory about the old race, recalling the time when, under an extensive road improvement scheme in the town, it was piped and covered over.

Johnny, as he is locally known, took a particular interest in the race because the old hemstitching firm of Hamilton McBride & Co. at Circular Road, where he spent the whole of his working life, becoming a director, had at one time tapped the race, bringing water across a wooden aqueduct.

I was very interested to learn from Johnny that the original proprietor of the firm, John Hamilton, locally known as "Jakie," engineered the use of this aqueduct so that it ran down the side of his garden at Otter Lodge and drove two turbines at the factory - one for power and the other for light.

Chuckling as he recalled the situation when there was a flood on the river, Johnny explained that this reduced the rate at which the water passed through the turbines with a resultant drop in power.

When this occurred the machinists would shout "Steam up" at Stanley Hill, the firm's mechanic, but of course he had no control over the situation.

At the height of its career about 40 to 50 machinists were employed in the firm which, in addition to hemstitching, had its own laundry for bedspreads, pillow and bolster cases, valances, tea cloths and tray cloths. They had a washing machine and also a smoothing machine, known as a calendar.

The managing director in those days was Howard Little, and fellow directors with Johnny were Miss Margaret Murphy and a man named Robert McCarthy.

If ever I knew this I had quite forgotten until Johnny pointed out that on the staff at various stages were Miss Rae Ervine, Billy Osborne and Brian Thompson.

Hemstitching Factories

The conversation then went on a tour of hemstitching factories in the town in those days - Dromore Hemstitching Co., Brewery Lane; the Bridge Hemstitching Co., Castle Street; Wm. Jardine & Co. The Square (they also bleached and dyed yarn at the Low Mills, on the Lurgan Road); John Hamilton & Co's factory at The Square, and Murphy & Stevenson's factory at Upper Church Street, at the entrance to what is now the Town Park, and a factory run by the Miniss family at Mossvale.

In our mind's eye we recalled some of the men who controlled the running of these factories in years past, all of them long since gone to their rest and reward - William Dickson, J.P., and Edgar Saunders (Dromore Hemstitching Co.), Charles M. Baxter, J.P., and his sons Charles and John (Wm. Jardine & Co.), Frank Hamilton and afterwards his son Roy (John Hamilton & Co.), Mr. Hutchinson (Murphy & Stevenson), whose wife ran a millinery shop in Meeting Street; William Sturgeon (The Bridge Hemstitching Co.). and William George Baxter, of Princes Street, who was manager of the Miniss firm, which supplied cambric handkerchiefs to Queen Victoria.

For a time there was also a firm at Bridge Street, known as the Downshire Frock Company, possibly because of the Downshire Bridge further down the street. It was run by the Spiro family.

And Johnny reminded me of another hemstitching factory at Scott's Entry in Meeting Street, the manageress of which was a Miss McCarthy.

We got down to talking about the changes that have taken place in the old town over the years. Hardly a street that has not been redeveloped, and many of the old hands have passed away and new generations have taken their place.

The day was when one could have named most of the householders in the various streets, but not so to-day. Building development at places like Barban Hill, Banbridge Road, Maypole Road, Milebush Road, Jubilee Road, Gallows Street, Mound Road, Meeting Street, and Circular Road have brought many new faces to the town. And, of course, new generations of young folk have grown up.

The old factory of Hamilton & McBride on the Circular Road (now derelict). Picture taken in 1976 by Virginia E. Doloughan (now Mrs. Mark E. Maguire).

Funeral Customs of the Past

I do not wish to end on a sad note, but the conversation turned to the days when coffins for local funerals used to be made at the workshop of John and Willie Ellison at Meeting Street, where William Moreland and Charlie Harrison were both employed.
And on the day of a funeral the family provided the officiating minister and the doctor with shoulder scarves, while the bereaved wore crepe arm bands, and a crepe bow was placed on the door knocker at the home of mourning.

To crown it all, hat bands were provided for the drivers of the hearses - all horse-drawn vehicles.

Johnny has memories too of a custom in First Dromore Presbyterian Church of the scarf worn by the minister at the funeral during the week being placed the following Sunday over a rail near the pulpit on whatever side in the Church the deceased had his or her pew during their lifetime.

There are other much more pleasant events which happened over the years in the town which Johnny, no doubt, can recall, for having lived here all his life he has had ample opportunity to observe much that took place down the years, not only in his place of employment, but as a pillar of First Dromore, where he sang in the choir, held office as Sunday School superintendent and is still clerk of Session, but also through his services on various school committees and as a one-time chairman of the old Urban Council.

Johnny could also regale one about his early education at the old School at First Dromore and later at the Technical School firstly in Bridge Street and then in Upper Church Street; and about the time when the "Master," the late William George McAlister, was precentor in First Dromore Choir, and stories of the days when the late reverend Rev. Andrew Thompson was the minister and the late Todd Barr the sexton.

Episode at an Auction

Both Johnny and I can recall Mr. McAlister taking a break at night classes in the Tech to tell us about an auction which took place in premises at the corner of Bridge Street and Meeting Street and at which he was present.

Obviously the floor of the building was not capable of coping with the large attendance, and it so happened that as the auctioner's hammer fell to clinch the biddings one corner of the floor gave way and many found themselves in a heap.

Typically, in the next issue of the old "Dromore Weekly Times" an article appeared from the pen of the editor and proprietor, the late R. J. Hunter, B.L., in which he noted that the precentor (Mr. McAlister did not lead them off in singing: "Lord, from the depths to Thee we

Todd Barr was a real character, and I well remember him telling me of an occasion on which he had spent some time showing a visitor over First Dromore Church. The man was leaving with a polite "Thank you," to be met with the quick retort from Todd: "Don't mention it, my pockets are full of thanks."

This leads me to record a similar incident attributed to the late Alec Gribben, of Mount Street. Alec was a porter at Dromore Railway Station, and, as the story was related to me by one of his sons (the late Sam), after he had carried a lot of baggage belonging to a passenger and had loaded it on to a waiting vehicle, the passenger was about to leave when Alec dropped a broad hint that he had received no gratuity. "Sir," he said, "if you have lost your purse when you get down town you hadn't it out at the station."

It strikes me that we don't have many characters like Todd and Alec around these days.


My father loved horses. He was particularly fond of the great work-horses; the Shires and Clydesdales that worked the fields and carted on the roads in his youth.
When they had out-lived their usefulness - made redundant by the petrol engine - it broke his heart.
This poem is my tribute to my father, and to the horses that he loved.

by Roy Gamble

His hands remember;
Pallid on the eiderdown
Like peeled ash twigs,
Worked-grained thumbs
Playing peek-a-boo
With fissured palms
That still retain
The pluck and pull
Of reins or the steely
Feel of a sweat-polished
Horse plough.
Old age had made him nervous.
His bronchitic breath and cough
Has humped his back
(the way no furrow could)
And each forced word
Of conversation whistles
As if he paces
Some flint-faced hill
Or faces his team
Into the season's
Stubborn wind.
From the cluttered mantle-shelf
He smiles at me,
Confident in rakish cap,
One arm casually embracing
A monster Clydesdale.
I search the sepia
For signs of recognition---
The common ancestry,
The shared birthright.
He sees me looking,
Eyes pleading, "That is me,
Remember me like that."
I understand and lean across
To touch his arm,
Fingers fumbling,
Too late to grasp
The obsolescent secrets
Of the horseman's hand.